Not The Actual Site by Marleen Sleeuwits
Marleen Sleeuwits is inspired by impersonal environments—places that could be anywhere and nowhere—such as vacant zones in airports, unoccupied corridors of hotels, and empty rooms in office buildings. The Netherlands-based artist is attracted to these non-spaces for the lack of impression they leave on people; her work focuses on finding ways of visualizing the identity of these voids and connecting to them in novel ways. Through structural contradiction, illusion, and the manipulation of scale, she aims to transform viewers’ awareness of their surroundings.
Sleeuwits primarily works within abandoned office spaces, and her process involves stripping the rooms down to their individual components, laying bare the layers found beneath the surfaces. She then reassembles the room using materials found on-site, such as fluorescent tubes, paper towels, laminate, and tape, by adapting techniques of sculpture, painting, and drawing. Experimenting with the variability of the commonplace substances she finds, Sleeuwits creates contradictions of spatial orientation, and then photographs the end results. Her compositions obscure a given room’s anatomy, yet she deliberately incorporates small clues that ground her works in reality; an electrical socket, for example, provides a subtle indication of scale that is otherwise difficult to comprehend, and close inspection reveals sheets of insulation, pieces of ceiling, and sparkling foam rubber.
In this site-specific installation at Brookfield Place, Sleeuwits combines her recent photographs with new images taken of the Galleria floor located precisely where these illusory compositions stand. Presented on freestanding walls positioned at either end of the Allen Lambert Galleria’s expansive thoroughfare, these images of architectural transformations reference the generic spaces endemic to office complexes yet offer something much more complex, puzzling, and extraordinary. Her intervention alters the way that viewers navigate this wide-open passageway, adjusting scale to one that is surprisingly intimate. Heightening awareness of space and place, Sleeuwits provides the opportunity to pause and reconsider the hidden potential of office environments.